Dec 2015: (Mangai Nui) Arriving at the minister's lakeside home at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon for this interview, he'd just finished training. At almost 60 years of age keeping fit and healthy is an integral part of his life.The idea is to "act as a role model" he says. "We've got this kaupapa Whānau Ora - well if you can't do it yourself, then why should you tell anybody else to do it?"
Poverty, employment and the Māori language strategy are all important issues, but it seems the number one priority for newly elected Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell is none other than Whānau Ora."Embedding Whānau Ora as a way towards economic sustainability for whānau and indeed for the Māori nation".Flavell is keen to investigate "from top to bottom" and dig deep into the delivery mechanisms, to find out how Whānau Ora is being run.The original Whānau Ora minister, Tariana Turia, has recently criticised Te Puni Kōkiri for not rolling out the social policy properly, claiming the agency was underspending.Despite Te Puni Kōkiri stating it has spent 99 per cent of the $150 million funding it received from 2009 to June 2014, Flavell is determined to go through and track it "all the way through to see where the holes are"."To make sure it's delivering on the dream that we had, that is to have the services available as close as possible to whānau that need it.""I'm pretty determined that having done all the work to get Whānau Ora to where it is now, that if there are gaps then we have to plug them, because so much is at stake with Whānau Ora".Flavell did find solace in the work being done in the Te Arawa area. "The Te Arawa collective for example went over the 1000 people mark of cases that have been addressed by the Whānau Ora collective", but on a whole "we have got to do better".The funding now sits with three major commissioning agencies under the umbrella of Te Pou Matakana, chaired by Merepeka Raukawa-Tait.In his capacity as Māori Development minister, and Associate Economic Development minister, Te Ururoa Flavell also links Whānau Ora to strategies aimed at reducing poverty and increasing employment, both of which impact greatly on Māori."We've got to think past just the individual person, and think about the whānau, and working with whānau to provide everyone with opportunities.""Allowing our people to be self-sustaining which is Whānau Ora, and looking at opportunities for them to look into business"."We recognise that Whānau Ora is one way to move, as a kaupapa, to deliver, and address those issues."This story first appeared in Mangai Nui.